Take a look down any makeup aisle and it’s clear we’re living in the golden age of base makeup. There’s a product for every skin type, from oily to dry to mature. Not to mention finish options galore (matte, dewy, shimmery). In fact, the sheer amount of variety available can be a bit overwhelming. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered (pun intended).   

Let’s simplify things and break it down to the two most popular options: BB creams and foundations. In order to find your best match, we spoke to pros Dr. Marina Peredo, a dermatologist in Smithtown, NY and celebrity makeup artist Stephanie Flor to help you sort through it all. Read on to learn the difference between BB creams and foundation, plus how to apply them, and everything else you need to know about these face makeup all-stars.

What Is BB Cream?

No longer the beauty counter newbie, BB cream has proved it’s a serious contender in the base coverage category. The all-in-one makeup, skincare cream and SPF claims to have all your skin's needs covered (evening out redness, hydrating, creating a natural texture, and protecting your skin). For coverage, they can range anywhere from a barely-there tint to medium coverage. Some BB’s can contain ultra-high SPFs, like Kiehl’s BB Cream Skin Tone Correcting & Beautifying BB Creamwhich has a whopping SPF 50 to keep your complexion safe from UV damage and the aging effects of the sun.

BB creams also have the added benefit of helping breakout-prone skin. They don’t call it a blemish balm for nothing. "If you're acne-prone, using a BB cream that’s oil-free is a good way to go,” says Flor. Try Maybelline Dream Pure BB Cream Skin Clearing Perfector or Garnier SkinActive BB Cream 5-in-1 Miracle Skin Perfector Oily/Combo Skin.

One small issue with BBs: They don’t have a lot of shade diversity. Most come in a range of light, medium, and dark. So if you can’t find an exact match to your skin tone, best to stick to those with a sheerer finish.

What Is Foundation?

Comparatively, foundation is the time-tested classic that’s the go-to for makeup artists and beauty mavens when they want to create a flawless canvas and have superior skin coverage. If you want something that's going to last all day, foundation is the way to go, says FlorLancôme Teint Idole Ultra 24H will stay put for 24 hours (for those long days that turn into epic nights).

And, while BB creams are the superior moisturizing option, that’s not to say foundations can’t provide hydrating benefits. Giorgio Armani Maestro Glow Nourishing Fusion Makeup is a bi-phase formula that mixes skin oils with pure pigments, making it one of the most hydrating foundations on the market. Not to mention the fresh and healthy look it gives your skin. It’s the epitome of your-skin-but-better.

Then, of course, there are the shade ranges. Unlike BBs, it’s de rigueur for foundations to come in a rainbow of skin tones. If you’re using a full- or medium-coverage foundation then you absolutely need it to match your skin perfectly, meaning you’re going to require a few more (okay, a lot more) options. Urban Decay Naked Skin Weightless Ultra Definition Liquid Makeup, for example, comes in 26 shades from the fairest of the fair to actually non-chalky darks.

How to Apply BB Cream

Another great thing about BBs is that they are both a time-saver in the a.m. and impossible to mess up. Since it takes the place of three different steps you save time and don’t need to worry about piling products on and trying to make them blend. “Anything that combines sunscreen, skincare ingredients, antioxidants and light coverage is ideal for the busy woman who doesn't have time for a more in-depth regimen,” says Peredo.

Just rub a pea to dime-size amount between your hands to warm it up and apply to bare, freshly cleansed skin. That’s legitimately it. If you have extra dry skin, you can benefit from applying a moisturizer underneath prior to BB application to get an added drink of hydration for your thirsty skin. You can get fancy and use a sponge or brush, but we recommend keeping things simple and fuss-free and using your fingers. That’s kind of the whole point of BBs, after all.


How to Apply Foundation
Here’s where things can get a bit more technical. Since most women use foundation to cover up things like under eye circles, pimples, uneven skin tone, and other imperfections, the application needs to be on point. You can use your hands, however you’ll get the most even coverage using a sponge or brush. With sponges, you’ll achieve a more airbrushed finish and they are a little easier and more intuitive than brushes. Try It Cosmetics Complexion Perfection Airbrush Makeup Sponge. But, brushes are a favorite or makeup artists you swear by their ability to blend effortlessly and evenly. Try It Cosmetics Heavenly Luxe Complexion Perfection Brush #7.

Start by dabbing dots of foundation down the center of your face — forehead, nose, upper lip, and chin. Take your sponge and, starting at the top dot, blend the foundation outwards. This will allow you to cover your entire face without looking like you are wearing any makeup. Be sure to pay attention to your hairline and chin — you want to blend those areas out to blend seamlessly and avoid the dreaded visible foundation line.

Another trick: You can use your foundation as concealer, applying an extra (sheer!) layer to those areas the need a little more help. Under eye circles, blemishes, pigmentation — a little extra face makeup will help hide those problem areas without looking too obvious.

And Finally, What’s a CC?

Cut from the same cloth as a BB, a CC or “color correcting” cream, is a one-product-does-it-all formula. Meant to help reduce redness, darkness or sallowness, this product blends skincare with light-diffusing properties, but does not give the same amount of coverage like a BB (which acts like a light foundation or tinted moisturizer). It’s also lighter on the skin in general. Try L’Oréal Paris Visible Lift CC CreamLancôme Miracle CC Cushion.


The Bottom Line: BB Cream Vs. Foundation
When it comes to your complexion, there is no right or wrong choice. What’s important is to find a routine and a product that works best for you. So, keep these tips and tricks in mind on your next trip to the makeup counter.


Do you prefer BB cream or foundation? Tell us why in the comments!


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